Here’s my follow up to the review of each track of McCartney I
The tracks that received serious finishing were not done at Abbey Road, but were done at Morgan Studios… I am also including down below the PRESS KIT done with the album that caused the entire “Paul quits The Beatles” the following day. Paul himself breaks each song down and adds some insight to each (he DID plan on expanding “The Lovely Linda” and re-recording it at some point). One final photo from the time and now the loose ends that encompass this time frame for Paul.
OTHER TRACKS THAT HE HAD AT THIS PERIOD
1. “Suicide” Written for Frank Sinatra. I have heard a few of the demos he has for this track. One, he plays around a bit, others he records in the style that he sees Frank recording it. When you here THAT version it is a good fit for Frank. When Sinatra got the demo he rejected it outright. Possibly the thought of singing a song called “suicide” turned him off. Would have been interesting to see a Quincy Jones full production with Frank of this song. Not a track that fits in any way (except the snippet of the playing around version after “Glasses.”) on McCartney. Rating – 5
2. “Women Kind” Paul jokes his way thru a silly song, with silly lyrics in a silly voice about the women’s liberation movement. Thank goodness this track was forgotten. Rating – 2.5
3. “Goodbye”. Demo made for Mary Hopkins, who recorded it faithfully with Paul in charge of the production. It would have been a wonderful addition to McCartney, but still became a huge hit for Hopkins. Rating – 8
There was still the chance that The Lads could have reformed in the future if it didn’t involve the entire business aspects of all of their lives. By very late 1970 Paul saw as the only choice he had in the 3 vs 1 fight was to sue the three and Klein to get out of the contract.
It wasn’t right that McCartney made money on “Instant Karma” or “All Things Must Pass.” And the same for Paul’s releases…The bitterness escalated and it wasn’t until years later when Paul won in court, and the other three REALIZED Klein was ripping them off…. “I guess Paul was right….”
To put the other bookmark on 1970’s McCartney I give you the official release of “The Making Of McCartney.”
Ego’s split the Beatles.
My final input on Paul’s first solo release. In 1970 Paul released McCartney I in which he plays all the instruments and basically records all by himself in a home studio setting…. And this feat was repeated 10 years later in 1980’s McCartney II. That album closed the book on Wings and saw Paul turn another corner, as McCartney I closed the book on The Beatles. Three days ago the hints began and they were confirmed yesterday. McCartney III is coming, as Paul closes the book on the horrid 2020 and hopefully we all can turn the corner on the virus and so many of the problems in this country and the world. Again, he recorded this by himself at home, this time under the knuckle of self isolation due to the spread of the deadly virus. It will debut on December 18th and I personally can’t hold back my excitement.
In the next few weeks I will set up 1971’s Ram and then another detailed song by song review of all songs worked on from this period. Enjoy….
In late October 1970 Paul and Linda went to NYC to audition drummers and guitarists for the next batch of song “they” had written. One dramatic thing had changed….. Paul was angry and ready to SHOW THEM All with a record that was the polar opposite of McCartney. It was to be called RAM……
By April 17th, 1970, John Lennon had released three singles. “Give Peace A Chance” and “Cold Turkey” in 1969 and “Instant Karma” in February of 1970. Paul McCartney saw the writing on the wall. It was time to get his act together.
You know what got Paul to this point (see previous post) and he went into seclusion, filled with confusion, depression, anger and a complete lack of confidence. He began to drink as heavily as he ever had, grew a scraggly beard and meandered around the house in a robe all day until……Linda sat him down and pointed out the obvious…start making music and hey, you are one of the most talented musicians on the planet.
So Paul had all these ideas he was flushing out on the four track in the living room and I presume that by February of that year he got serious turning what rough recordings he had made into finished songs.
Johns songs, and his personal life was one of protest, media blitzing and avant garde experiments. Who can forget the press conference for sending every world leader an acorn to plant featured he and Yoko inside a gigantic bag the entire time? I can’t.
Paul saw his former partner and friend and support in completely different head space. And don’t forget the money, and power grab by Klein.So, McCartney put together the best album he could, enjoying the fact that squeaks, whistles, tape whirrs could be heard on the final product. This album would be a homemade album, soft and gentle in spirit and sound, all embracing his new marriage and growing family.
Paul plays all instruments but asks Linda to help on harmonies. She sang backup on the Beatles “Let It Be,” impressing Paul with her natural upper range.
The album design is lovely and reflects what is inside…. Paul, bearded and happy, with newborn Mary stuffed inside his jacket.His seclusion had reached the point that the incredible “Paul is Dead” theories emerged by late 1969.
The rear cover is simply a display of an emptied bowl of cherries on a table. Was he saying “life IS a bowl of cherries?” Linda’s photography is also featured in the gatefold center, with a variety of domestic bliss captured. The dog, the cat, the kids, Paul, Linda all living life in the heart of the country. Paul repairs a window, fixes the roof, picks his nose…. Not one of them inside a giant bag.
The album was finished, released to the uproar of his quitting (at least for the time) the band that the world still worshiped.
No promotion other that a slideshow of similar photos to “Maybe I’m Amazed” and shown on television shows. The album sold very well due to his Beatles status but the press and many of the fans didn’t embrace the lo-fi sound, or the love themes that dominated it.
I got my copy soon after release. I listened and found it pleasant but wasn’t musically mature enough to see it for what it was. Today I see it for what it is…a baby step away from what was his old world into a scary new world, hand and hand with his new family.
Again, today it is viewed as a much better album, with better remastering of archive releases. It is sparse, it is quiet and gentle, but it always meant to be.
Listen to this album on your best stereo or under decent headphones. Listen to this album when you are in a romantic or mellow mood. In your car this is a slow country road listen early in the day or as the sun is setting.
The Songs (on the initial release)
1. “The Lovely Linda” : The song Paul used to test the equipment. Plug in the microphone, sit down with acoustic and make up a quick ditty for his wife. He chose not to expand the song with additional verses etc… and left in the squeals, squeaks and laughter in and then have it open the album. Coming in at 43 seconds, it is a sweet statement, but should it have been? I would rather he developed it more for my taste, but he was making a statement by placing it here in this version. Rating- 5
2. “That Would Be Something” : George Harrison’s favorite song from the album. I find of all the songs on this album that this one needed more. Better drumming, better and fuller recording, better lyrics. A critic would be wondering what is going on after the first two tracks…. Rating – 5
3. “Valentine Day” : The first instrumental. Used as background music for an anti-drug PSA at the time. I like this song. Paul’s guitar work is excellent, love the use of foot pedal. The drumming is fine and the song takes you musically on a journey in the 1:39 track. Short and sweet. Rating – 7.5
4. “Every Night” : The first fully flushed out song, finished at Abbey Road studio and it shows. The first time I heard this song, I fell in love. Should have been the second single released from the album (if a first one was released). It would have been a #1. Beautiful and touching in every way. His drumming drives the song, his voice is marvelous. The lyrics reflect the confusion in his life and how home is the only stability in his world. Rating – 9
5. “Hot As Sun/Glasses” The second instrumental. Again, I really like this song. The roller rink organ and the drumming and 50’s style guitars work for me. The song blends into Paul playing various wine glasses filled with water to give a trippy effect and then cuts into a few seconds of the unreleased song written for Frank Sinatra demo of “Suicide.” Put together it works for me. Rating – 7
6. “Junk” Written in India in 1968, an attempted or at least presented to the Beatles, but never recorded properly. A simple song as an ode to the abandoned merchandise that was once owned and now finds itself available to anyone with money. The sign says BUY, the junk says WHY? Linda makes her first appearance. Nice, interesting lyrics if you place them in a broader perspective (friendships, relationships etc…) Rating – 7
7. “Man We Was Lonely” A country toe tapper about the state of their world. They were lonely, but by having each other…. things are good. A slight Beatles dig lyrically (…singing songs that I thought were mine alone). Very good guitar work, and a perfect ending (The ending was nicked for the introduction of the 1976 Spinners hit, “One Of A Kind Love Affair”). The best bass playing on the album so far. Linda is there with her “Alone’s..” I hated these back in 1970 but accept them for what they are today. Rating – 7.5
8. “Oo You” Another instrumental till Paul added silly lyrics. It rocks pretty good. Was to be called “Rock and Roll Springtime.” Rating – 6.5
9. “Momma Miss America” Two instrumentals that were spliced together and it worked (albeit with a sudden tempo change). Again, I like the instrumentals on this album. Very good piano work. Very good bass lines. Rating – 7.5
10. “Teddy Boy” Attempted with the Beatles, but this time with much more effort. Let It Be movie bootlegs show Lennon mocking it as Paul runs through it too many times for his liking. Another India written song. Linda is more pronounced here.. When I got the album I wondered…. Why is she still singing here???? Little did I know…Paul didn’t have a lot of material at this time, so it made the cut. The album comes in at a just over 34 minutes…so nothing was wasted. Rating – 5.5
11. “Sing A Long Junk.” Junk, but without vocals. In 1970 I said… why, why put this song on here again. I wrote a short play in college and used it for the introduction of it… so I’ll add a half point. Back to the lack of new material. Rating – 5.5
12. “Maybe I’m Amazed”. Here we go…. The gold standard. Another Abbey Road song. Still is, 50 years later, one of Macca’s finest songs… Linda’s harmonies are spot on. This is a brilliant song that is a fine a love song a newlywed could present to his new bride. Lyric, fantastic, the guitar work is fantastic. The song has become a piano ballad today in concert, but was clearly a kick ass rock song upon release. Question? Why was this song not released as the first single…. It would have been a #1 hit, no question. Hell, the live 1976 version by Wings was a big hit…. Rating – 9.75
13. “Kreen-Akore”. Okay, this is the one everyone shits on…with the panting drum solo and most dismiss it out of hand. But this last instrumental (except for the ooohs and aaahs) is more than meets the eye. Paul had read or saw a film about the Brazilian Kreen-Akore tribe that killed all intruders. The song is the sound of the tribe as it hears and then goes on the hunt for the kill. Paul and Linda make animal sounds, shoot actual arrows in the studio. I find this song fascinating and entertaining, with a climactic hunt and album ending. Rating – 7.5
So for the original album released tracks we have an average rating of 6.92. Not Bad…but not great. Yeah, that’s about right. But now, when I listen I know what awaits me and I appreciate it for what it was. The first step into a new and uncharted territory.
Next Up : Bonus songs and unreleased songs from this period.
..A very quick and very brief review of what led up to this: In the summer of 1967 the Beatles reached their creative peak as far as working together as a band. The making, releasing and success of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was their nadir, the top of the mountain. They helped each other and their teamwork and positive attitude gave them a work of art that many people still consider the greatest album of all-time. At the worst, it helped change the view of what an album should look like and say as a whole. It was not a collection of songs filled around a hit single or two.
No singles were pulled from Sgt. Pepper.
Later 1967, they traveled to India to meet and learn from the Maharishi. They each yearned to grow as individuals, now becoming young men, no longer boys.
While there the first time their manager, Brian Epstein, died of a drug overdose. Brian was highly depressed over his reduced role with the band. They no longer toured and were now a studio only band.
When Brian passed they became a ship without a proper rudder. Lennon stepped back emotionally, his marriage failing and his meeting of Yoko Ono. Paul, the most into keeping the band as usual, prompted them to make the off the cuff and rushed Magical Mystery Tour film. Shown on boxing day, it was their first major misstep. The music was still great, but the glitter was falling off.
They returned to India, and each wrote an incredible batch of new songs. The demos were made in loving fashion at George’s home Esher studio. John left his wife and moved in with Yoko, as they grew together as one, with avant garde art and projects far outside the band. She was even brought into their inner sanctum, the studio, and the tensions began.
Recording 1968’s The Beatles (White album) was a long laboring process, which saw Ringo quit the band for a bit, and now the four working as mostly individuals, and then helping out the others to finish tracks….not a single mind, but four.
In early 1969 they decided to “get back” to their roots and record the old way, by rehearsing and recording as a band with as few overdubs as possible. They decided to film it.
The coldness of this process brought the tension to a head. Paul and George argued on film, and George quit for a short while.
Meanwhile, to save all the money that was being taxed they formed Apple records, with goals that this was the way to get people to create and not have to beg “the man” to produce their art. Their ambition was genuine, but they filled the staff with friends and hangeroners and were quickly bleeding money. The Get back sessions were shelved, after a magnificent and final short rooftop concert on Apple’s office building.
They realized they were going broke and sought management to stop this and right the ship. Paul wanted in his lawyer brother in law, having just married Linda Eastman. The other three wanted Allen Klein, who had made The Stones a great record deal before they discarded him.
Paul was totally against Klein representing him and soon withdrew physically and mentally from Apple, seeking refuge in Scotland in his newly bought run down old farm house and lands. The band reunited for the last time to make a proper album. In their hearts they sensed it would be their last, but nothing was written in stone.
The album, Abbey Road, was magnificent, and all seemed right from the outside. Klein tore apart the Apple staff and working vibe, and mostly everyone working or signed acts were physically or creatively discarded. Paul knew that they still had five years left on a contract that Klein did sign for them (he signed) which did give them a great deal, but the distrust and hatred for him grew daily.
Klein gave Phil Spector the “Let It Be” tapes and Paul was furious how he had over-orchestrated his babies, his songs. Paul watched Lennon scream out at a highly contentious financial meeting “I want a divorce, I want out of the band.” He and Yoko were never apart, and after they married, the bed-in, the album cover with them fully nude, experimental films, music and art, etc…
Paul meanwhile embraced simple domestic bliss with Linda, her daughter Heather and pregnant with baby Mary. They worked on fixing the farm up and enjoy peace and quiet, away from all the tensions. Paul borrowed a 4 track Studer recorder, and set it up makeship in the living room. He claims he did this to flush ideas out and find some creative output to battle the depression and frustration. He simply plugged microphones into the inputs in the back and adjusted levels, and rearranged mic placement for sound. Some very lo-fi recording. Soon, Paul realized he had enough songs to maybe do something with it. He finished as much at home as he could, but did return to a proper studio to finish a few of the broader tracks (Maybe I’m Amazed, Every Night…)
He heard the tracks sent by Klein for “Let It Be” and was horrified and furious at the changes to his music and he decided enough was enough. He realized that he would have abandon recording with the band, at least temporarily, and chose to put together the music he had recorded as an album, his first solo album. He picked a date for release, and to his dismay, Ringo was sent to his house to ask him to delay this as they (Klein and Apple) wanted to release the Spector mixed Let It Be album roughly at the same time. He literally threw Ringo out of the home, and lost probably his closest Beatles ally. The other three relented and he was granted the 4/17/70 release day, with Let It Be album and film pushed back a month. Paul, still in recluse mode, chose to do no publicity for McCartney. He instead had written up a press release that was included only in the press promotional copies. In this press release, he vented all his frustrations, and basically said that writing with Lennon and recording with The Beatles were for the time finished and he was going to do his music alone. The icing on the cake was on the initial McCartney album jacket it said APPLE, an “ABKCO” (Allen and Betty Klein Company) managed company.
This was the last straw for Macca. Lennon, who had bit his tongue after his boardroom call for band divorce was furious. He wanted to be the one that walked out and announced it.
Paul eventually was forced to sue the other three and Klein to get out of the contract that stretched into 1976. He asked them to let him out of it, and split things four ways and move on…but with Klein’s advice they said no… Klein wanted to apply the screws to Paul.
When the album and press release came out….headlines screamed….”Paul quits The Beatles. ” Fans and the world alike were horrified and angry, basically blaming Paul for this outcome, unaware of the behind the scenes that led to this moment. The monies made and future income from all four went into a legal trust until the matter was resolved years later.
Funny, the most successful band members of all time had no day to day cash. So…. McCartney was released. It went and stayed at #1 until “Let It Be” replaced it. The reviews were not very good, as nearly all critics and many fans expected this to be a even better launching pad from the brilliance of Abbey Road.Next up…. reviewing, song by song, 50 years later. Thanks for reading…… I’ll try to do an album or two a month until every note of every song of his every release has been reviewed. These are just my opinions and I encourage debate and feedback.
My basic KEYS to reviewing albums and releases ————————————————- The best places to listen to it.
The best time of day to listen to it.
10. The perfect song. Flawless from start to finish…. Great melody and lyrics. Perfect vocals and backing vocals. Perfect production and mixing. Can listen to over and over and never tire of. (10, a rating hard to achieve and not given lightly)
9. Nearly perfect. Some aspect of a 10 is missing but I still love it.
8. Excellent song. Still love it, but not everybody does… and here’s why.
7. Good song. It works in connection to its release. It fits into the album or as a stand alone single.
6. Not bad, but not great.
5. Fair, at best. Flawed in my ears for the following reasons.
4. Not good. I can listen to it, but likely will skip it if I have the chance.
3. Not a very BAD song, but has a few points of interest. Here’s why.
2. Bad…. I will skip or even delete it. Why was this even released?
1. Very bad. Is there anything redeemable about this recording?
0. Awful. The time I spent listening to this will never come back. (0 and 1, ratings that are also hard to achieve and not given lightly)
These are the basic parameters of every album (the sum total of the individual songs divided by the number of songs) or single release or bonus tracks on remastered or archive editions.
…Up next….. reviewing 1970’s “McCartney” original album